• Thasneem from ELEVEN

alone but not lonely

I have been taking hikes on my own the past year, because I genuinely enjoy my own company. Whenever I post snippets of my hike on social media, people are often concerned about my solo trip. And I think it's due time I clarify on behalf of all the beings out there who love going on solo ventures; going solo absolutely does not mean that we are lonely or that we lack friends, it really just means that we are in absolute bliss with being our own company. I cultivated this habit of doing things that I want to do on my own because I simply did not want to put my friends in a spot where they have to succumb to my interests. The dunya is a transitory phase and as for me, while I am here, I want to explore the wilderness, be in awe of His creations, breathe in the fresh air, embrace the dewiness of the mornings, and for once, immerse myself in a place that has not quite been impacted by mankind, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

I wish spending time alone wasn’t such a stigma nor perceived to be lonely. I wish we cultivated a mindset as a society that it is okay to want to do things on your own. Man has always been seen to be a social animal, constantly surrounded by people, be it friends, family, etc. This has been the norm. Our family and the friends we choose shape our identity. Just as important as it is to spend time with our loved ones, it is pivotal to be comfortable with your own company, to venture out and explore what Allah SWT has to offer you, to take control in molding your identity as well. We can do things for ourselves, by ourselves. We very much underestimate our capabilities and experiences by holding on to these centuries-old norms. Have you ever pondered over how, if all those people didn’t cancel on you or if they didn’t make you wait for them, you would have lived through way more experiences?

I particularly take hikes alone because I love challenging myself, stepping out of my comfort zone, and pushing my limits. The physical challenges are akin to trials we are all bound to face in the dunya and they remind me of how I only have Him to ask for strength and perseverance to overcome them. I learned to trust myself more, believe in myself more, and I hold these solo ventures as a critical part of my growth as they’ve nurtured me to be more independent, confident, self-sufficient, healthier in mind and body, and to be a challenge-taker.

When you love or are comfortable being on your own, you’ll realise that you can do whatever you want to, dress up for yourself, eat whatever you want and go wherever you want to. I have learned to value people more, appreciate soulful interactions, and prioritise quality over quantity. What matters isn’t the number of people you interact with, but rather the weight of these interactions that qualifies these people to be a friend. I have learned first-hand that happiness comes from within and it should never be through someone, being alone and happy have made me confident enough to say that I do not depend on anyone for my own happiness, as it should be. It is only when we depend on others, be it a friend or a significant other, for our happiness that relationships begin to break apart. Someone could pour all their love and soul into you, but it would never be enough for you, unless you are content with who you are. Your search for a significant other would be more purposeful and mature, because you are already in bliss with your own company, so it wouldn’t be based on a search for anyone who makes you happy. Your choices would be more empowered and wise.

It is only when you are alone that you begin to see your innate capabilities, you work towards your goals, you create without boundaries, you love without limits, you feel empowered enough to take charge of your life, to be accountable for who you are and make progressive changes to be the best version of yourself, without anyone’s help. Your circle of people should be adding more to your already meaningful and exciting life, and not give meaning to it. You create magic, by yourself, for yourself. Reminding ourselves of how short-lived life here is, could help us appreciate our moments of solitude rather than fear them.

Time spent in solitude is the best path for growth, you have the chance to introspect, learn more about yourself, reflect upon the past experiences, celebrate your small achievements and guide yourself to grow from the mistakes you’ve made. Solitary time is when you can best recharge without any distractions, you will be at peace and you will have the chance to revitalise your mind, body, and soul. When I spend time alone, I befriend Him, talk to Him about my life, my plans, my emotions, my failures and my achievements. I find that solitary time is the best time to strengthen your connection with Him. There is a time to be alone and to be with friends, and Islam teaches us the balance between solitary and communal acts of worship. There is virtue in both. We are all actually alone, no matter the number of people around us, we are alone in the sight of Allah SWT, we are answerable to our choices, and no brother or sister in deen is going to carry the burden of our sins (The Qur’an 17:15).

At the end of the day, it is just us and Him, not anyone else from this life, no matter how close we were. The confidence and trust in myself and my values through all my solo ventures propels me to do what is pleasing to Him against all human disapproval. I pray that we all, one day, have the faith and courage to be alone. We came alone, we are going to leave alone, and eventually meet Him all alone. I hope this article has served as a timely reminder for us to cherish our health, and explore the world He has created for us to appreciate, before our time here runs out.

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